Friday, February 15, 2019

What?! #FlyOnTheWall

Welcome to February's Fly on the Wall Round-Up. This is a blogging challenge, hosted by Karen of Baking in a Tornado, where bloggers get together and give readers a glimpse into our homes. We talk about things you would have seen or heard, had you been a fly on the wall in our homes.

So, here we go....

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Gigi, while pointing to a bump on her cheek: Look, Mama, I got my first pimple.
Me: Cool.
Gigi, while rubbing the bump: Isn't it cute. Do you have any?
Me: Have you looked at my face?! I have tons. The steroids give me huge ones. LOOK *points to like three*
Gigi: I filled mine with love, because I love it. You should wish love into yours.
Me: Come talk to me in ten years.
Gigi: Why? I am talking to you now.

*three minutes later*

Gigi: Do you name your pimples?
Me: No. I try to not get too attached.
Gigi: Oh. Well, I decided to name this one Taylor Swift.
Me: Lovely. Great name. I am sure its namesake would be flattered.
Gigi: Huh?
Me: We will revisit this in ten years.

Gigi: Are you obsessed with ten years?!

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Some background.... Since my pregnancy with Kateri, I have been unable to drink/eat dairy. Gigi has been unable to have dairy since birth. Chad, really should NOT have dairy. It really messes with his tummy, and makes him smell horrendous. However, he will have dairy all the time. He apparently does not mind the pain, bad trips to the bathroom, and the horrendous smell. I think he is crazy, and almond milk is yummy. He recently found out his cholesterol is high, and has made some changes to what he brings to work for breakfast and lunch. One change was he switched from bagels to Cheerios. 

I received a letter in the mail about truancy. Gigi had to  miss some days after my dad passed away, and then she missed other days due to some health issues. However, I went into the office the next day, and cleared it all up. I did use the letter as a teaching moment. I explained to Gigi about truancy, and how important attendance is. She has hit her second half of the school year funk, and mornings are rough. She does not want to get up, and does not want to go to school. It is a struggle. On the days I am not feeling my best, the struggle is almost too much. So, I explained how if she was decided to be guilty of truancy, one of her parents could end up in jail, or we would have to pay more money than we could afford. Now, whenever she is struggling in the morning, I remind her about the importance of attendance, and if needed, I tell her I am too pretty for jail.

Gigi asked if she could have cereal. Chad made her a bowl, and she was happily eating, and we were just sorta talking about random stuff.

Chad: By the way, I bought Costco milk. 
Me: Oh okay.
Chad: Yeah, 2%.
Me: Wait. What?! Chad, you should not do that. It is going to kill your stomach, and you will stink your coworkers out of the building.
Chad: I don't smell THAT bad. (He totally does smell THAT bad. I think anyone in those circumstances smells THAT bad.)
Me, realizing Gigi is having the Costco milk in her cereal: Wait! You did not get 2%!
Chad: I did. It isn't that bad. It is better than whole milk.
Me: No! It isn't about which is best! Gigi cannot have dairy!!!
Chad: Yeah, so?
Me: 2% is dairy!
Chad: No, 2% lactose free.
Me: Oh. Costco has lactose free? I have never seen it.
Chad: Yeah. It is with the other milk.
Gigi: So this isn't dairy?! 
Chad: No, not dairy.
Gigi, wiping her brow: Phew. That is good. If I had dairy I would have to be in the hospital, and I would miss school, and mom would go to jail. We don't want that.
Chad: Real dairy milk coming right up.
Me: Hey, don't tempt me. I will keep her home tomorrow and just go to jail.
*Chad and I look at each other, and just get wide eyed and grin, because we both realize Gigi does not even have school the next day, and she does not know she does not have to go to school, since I did not tell her, so we could just maintain our normal routine, and have things go smoothly*
Gigi: Mom, I would protect you. I would tell the cop that he cannot take my mom.
Me: Then you would be in jail with me. 
Gigi: Okay. That sounds okay.
Me: Or I could just make Dad go to jail. It does not have to be ME.

So, yes. I was the terrible mom. I made this big deal. We woke up as usual, since I wanted to keep our normal routine. I made a big deal about saying.... Ehhhh... It feels like a good day to just stay in bed and watch movies. She was the one who did the truancy speech. I just told her to let me worry about the cops. She honestly took it so well. She was saying things like... Well, mom, when the cops come, I will explain to them that I really need you, so then they will just leave you with me... Mom, will the cops put you in handcuffs? Can I touch the handcuffs? Will you ride in the police car? Can I ride in it?.... Twice, when there were sounds like someone knocked, she literally ran to open the door. At those times, I said that she should not be so eager to get rid of me. She explained she just wanted to be the first to the door, so she could explain why they cannot take me.

Overall, she was really very okay with it all. I think it hurt my feelings a tiny bit, that she was not more upset. Though,  I honestly think she believed she would be able to convince the cop to let me stay with her. When she grew impatient about waiting for the cops, I finally told her that she had the day off (President Lincoln's birthday). I explained to her that I had fixed the truancy problem, but that she still needed to have really good attendance for the rest of the year. I had hoped for some funny reactions or some drama. Overall, my prank of a lifetime was mostly a dud. Though, hearing her lecture me about truancy, the same as I lecture her, did show me that at least she does listen.

We ended the day with a discussion about President Lincoln, slavery, and The Emancipation Proclamation. I was so proud of her reactions. She was outraged at the thought of slavery. She did not like the idea of owning people at all, and she really hated the idea that any human is better than another human. She made it very clear that every skin color is beautiful to her, and that she would never own a slave. I was grateful to not have to teach her equality. She is five and just knows by instinct, that we are all equal, and everyone deserves to be treated well. It also helped back up my long held belief, that hate and prejudice are taught, we are not born with it.

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Gigi: Mom, how did you have me, if you and Daddy aren't married?
Me: We just did.
Gigi: I don't understand. How can you have a baby when you aren't married?
Me: You do not have to be married to have a baby.
Gigi: Oh. What do you have to be?
Me: An adult.
Gigi: So any adult can have a kid?
Me: Pretty much. It is complicated, as are so many things, but pretty much anyone can be a parent.
Gigi: Well, I am so happy you are my parent.
Me: I am so happy too!!
Gigi: So getting married does not teach you how to have a baby?
Me: Nope.
Gigi: Your body just knows how to have a baby.
Me: Yep. It is an instinct.
Gigi: What is an I stinked? Is it a bad smell?
Me: No. It is just something that you are born with, that is ingrained in you.... Look, this is way too complicated for a five year old. I will explain it when you are a bit older.
Gigi: Okay. Like when I am forty seventeen?
Me: Yes, that sounds like the perfect time.
Gigi: So, are you ever going to marry my daddy?
Me: Maybe one day. That is complicated.
Gigi: Life has so much complicated.
Me: True story, Kid. True story.

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Gigi has this new thing she does, that I LOVE! I really want to try to capture it on video. Whenever she does something super cute, or says something wise beyond her years, or anything in general, that causes her dad and I to look at her in awe or amusement... she will shrug and do this cute smile and says "What?!". It is something I hope I never forget. It is beyond adorable. I wish she could see herself through my eyes, so she could know just how amazing she is. 

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Gigi: Don't worry, Mother. I can do this.
Me: I am your mom. It is my job to worry.
Gigi: Well, don't worry.
Me: I am going to worry, deal with it.
Gigi: You worry too much. It makes me worry about you.
Me: You're worried that I am worried?
Gigi: Yes.
Me: I am worried, that you are worried, that I am worried.
Gigi: *facepalms*
Me: Yes, I am definitely worried that you are worried that I am worried that you are worried about me worrying about worrisome things.
Gigi: Mom, please just do not worry.
Me: I told you, I am your mother, and it is my job to worry.
Gigi: You need a new job.

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Gigi, while holding her stuffed fox: Look at her tail. It looks just like fire.
Me: It does.
Gigi: I think I am going to change her name to Fire. Fire Fox. 
Me: Cool.
Gigi: Fire Fox. Is that a good name?
Me: Yep, it is pretty good.
Gigi: I think so too. I am so good at picking out names.
Me: You are.
Gigi: I bet nobody has ever even heard the name Fire Fox before.
Me, laughs.
Gigi: What?!
Me: Oh, nothing.

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Gigi: I am going to change my name.
Me: You can't.
Gigi: Why not? 
Me: You are not an adult. You are stuck with your name for eighteen years. Once you turn eighteen, you can go and change it.
Gigi: Well, I am changing it.
Me: Why? Your name is pretty, and it suits you. It wasn't the name I wanted for you, but I honestly think it is a good name.
Gigi: Well, I think it is not the best. I think I can name myself better.
Me: Oh yeah?! Well, what would you name yourself?
Gigi: Elizabeth.
Me: No.
Gigi: Why not?
Me: I am your mother, and I said no.
Gigi: Well, one day, when I am an adult, I won't have to listen to you.
Me: You already don't listen to me.
Gigi: Well, I really won't listen to you, when I am a grown up adult.
Me: Okay, Elizabeth.
Gigi: That is not my name.
Me: I was practicing for the future.
Gigi: Well, I changed my mind. I am not going to name my name Elizabeth.
Me: What will your new name be?
Gigi: Princess Bridgette Rose Flower Glitter.
Me: That is quite the name.
Gigi: I cannot wait until I am a grown up adult. I won't have to listen to you or dad and I will have the most beautiful name ever.


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During a political discussion, Chad said that he hasn't be paying attention to the political news lately, and mentioned that he isn't worried about the election right now, it is too early yet. 

Me: You should be worried. As a human you should be worried, and most importantly as a father you should be worried. You have two daughters!
Gigi: Three. He has three daughters.
Chad: I have two daughters.
Me: He has two.
Gigi: He has me. That's one. He has Kateri and he has Embee. Embee is his daughter. He has three.
Me: No. He has two. 
Gigi: How?
Me: He isn't Kateri's Daddy.
*Chad and I give each other that look, like oh boy here comes a complicated conversation*
Chad: I have two. You and Embee.
Gigi: Just two.
Me: Kateri's Dad's name is Maurice.
Gigi: Oh cool.
Me: Yeah, it is a pretty cool name.
*Gigi goes back to playing. I am yet again amazed at how she can just keep things simple, and accept things as they are. She doesn't judge. So often she approaches a topic, and I get all tense, getting ready for a difficult chat, and she just really processes things maturely, and doesn't complicate things more than necessary. I swear she is already more like a mature adult, than I am at times.*

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I try to teach Gigi to be a good person. I teach her the golden rules and the basic life lessons, I feel we all need to know. She has really gotten a great grasp on "Two wrongs do not make a right" lately, and hearing her say it, really warms my heart. She has been working hard on how she reacts to things. I think we could all learn some great lessons from her.

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As I had spoken about before, I am working hard on not yelling. I HATE to yell. Well, I have been doing really well. I am still a work in progress, but I have honestly done so well. It is so rare I yell lately. Maybe once a week. Gigi has asked me several times when I was going to start yelling again. Apparently, she misses it. Yelling made me feel like an absolute failure as a mom, and this is her reaction to me no longer yelling.

I decided to start a new tradition for Valentine's Day. I want us to each tell each other one thing we LOVE about them.

Me to Gigi: I love your ability to make people laugh so genuinely.
Me to Chad: I love your smile.

Gigi to me: I love your yelling.
Gigi to Chad: I love your smile too.

Chad to Gigi: I love your eyelashes.
Chad to me: I love your heart... That you put others first before yourself, though sometimes that is not a good thing.

*Saying we should each include Lil Bit*
Me to Bit: I love your loyalty to my blanket.
Gigi to Bit: I love your ability to scare the cats away.
Chad to Bit: I love your spunk and feisty-ness. 

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We do not have the funniest of households, nor the most interesting or eventful of households, but we do have love. Lots and lots of love.

I hope you enjoyed your glimpse into our house. Hopefully you all have a fabulous week, and I hope your weekend is AMAZING. I am just hoping our weekend is dry. It has been raining a lot here. I do love the rain, and know we need the water, but raining means no doing laundry for us. Our washer and dryer are outside, and the enclosure for them has not been built yet, so they are covered with a lot of tarps. We cannot use them on rainy days, and there has been so much rain, laundry is piling up. I would love a dry weekend, so we can get our laundry done. That or for a laundry enclosure to magically appear.

Do not forget to go check out what is happening in the other houses!! I will meet you there, after I get some more coffee!!

Links to the other blogs featuring a Fly on the Wall post: 




Friday, February 8, 2019

Story in Pictures #UseYourWords

Welcome to February's Use Your Words writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers submitted four to six words or short phrases, for a randomly chosen fellow blogger to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own unique set of words. The fun twist; no one who is participating knows who received the words they submitted, or in which direction the writer will take them.





My words are:
picture ~ blue ~ jammed ~ rock ~ harried

It was submitted by: https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/ (Thank you, Diane, for such a cool list of words!)

Many years ago, while living in Buffalo, New York, on a whim, I walked into a tattoo shop, and I got my first tattoo. It was a purple heart with a tribal band behind it. It was on my chest, up near my collarbone. I almost hate myself as I type this, but I chose purple for two reasons. Yes, it was my favorite color at the time, but also because of the Purple Heart military awards. Now, listen, I in no way deserve a Purple Heart. However, at the time, I felt like I had survived some terrible things, and I did not give up, and so the heart being purple felt fitting. I had a small V put on the heart. My ex-boyfriend Von, will tell you that the V was for Von. However, it was really for victorious. I wanted to remind myself that I could be victorious, no matter what life throws at me, if I just do not give up.

Not long after that, I went back into the tattoo shop, and got my second tattoo. It was immediately below my first tattoo. It was of roses, a butterfly, and my ex-boyfriend Von's name, in his exact handwriting. It was awful. Honestly, if I saw a picture of it, while browsing those articles of world's worst tattoos, I would not have even been shocked. I know you first thought, is that it was terrible because of the fact my ex-boyfriend's name was in it. No. That was actually the best part of it. The artist did the name perfectly. It really looked just like Von's name he wrote down. The rest of the tattoo was horrendous. 

Actually, if I am going to be honest, I should tell you that it is not as bad as it could have been. I actually stopped the session before the artist finished, because I knew it could only get worse. I want to first tell you, before I forget, the portfolio of his work, that the artist showed me, before I agreed to let him be my artist that day, could NOT have been his actual portfolio. The reason I ended up leaving before it was done, is because he stopped a short while in, because he needed a bathroom break, and I got up and looked at the tattoo progress in the mirror. Once the shock of what I was seeing wore off. I politely paid, thanked him for his work, and left. Yes, I paid the full cost of the original tattoo quote, plus a twenty dollar tip, and left.

Now, thirty-six year old Jules, probably would have handled that situation quite differently, but twenty-one year old Jules wasn't as bold as I am now. Just so you get the full gravity of the entire situation, I actually did not want the tattoo below my first tattoo on my chest, but Von was with me, during the beginning of the tattoo session, and once the outline had been placed on my ankle, where I wanted the tattoo, he got upset. He did not want his name anywhere near my feet, as if I were walking on him, or placing his name near the dirty ground. So, it was decided by the artist, that for the size it was going to be, my chest would be a good spot. So, since he was the expert with the awesome portfolio, and Von seemed happy with the idea of his name being near my heart, I went with it. 

During the discussion with the artist about the colors, I decided I wanted the roses to be purple, because I am not a huge fan of the color red. I had originally considered having them be blue, but I wanted there to be blue in the butterfly, and I did not want there to be too much of any one color. So, we decided on purple roses, and a butterfly with different shades of blue and some pink, and the leaves would be a dark green with some lighter green areas. One of the first issues I noticed, when I looked into the mirror, after he had left the room, was that the roses were red. I was upset, because we had specifically discussed that I did not want red roses. The next issue I noticed, was the fact the butterfly looked nothing like the picture he had been using to draw up the outline. The butterfly in my tattoo, was not even symmetrical, and that is one of the most amazing things about butterflies, their symmetry. I was scared and confused, as I stood looking into that mirror, and I was unsure how I could make it better, but I knew I was definitely leaving immediately, so at least it would not get any worse.

Over these last fifteen years, I have spent more than enough time brooding over that tattoo. I can honestly say, that I do not think a single day has gone by, where I did not at least once think about how much I hated that tattoo. Due to its location, it is nearly always visible, at least partially, and since I wear tank tops a lot, it is nearly always fully visible most days. I knew from the very day that I got it, I wanted it covered. It took me years, to even go back into a tattoo shop. I was so scared of ending up with another bad tattoo. However, tattoos have always been meaningful for me, even back when I was a kid and did not have any tattoos. To me, tattoos are a way for us to tell the world a story with pictures (and yes, even words). I knew at a young age, that I would be getting at least one tattoo. I figured whether or not I got more than one, would depend on how badly the first one hurt. The tattoo, that finally got me to go back into a tattoo shop, was my neck tattoo.

My neck tattoo is a beautiful K with a halo. If you now me well, you probably already figured out that the K stands for Kateri. I got it after I got sick in 2009, and I was not sure how much longer I would be alive. I did not want to die, without Kateri being represented on my body, as part of my story in pictures. Since then, I have added to my story a bit more. I have the word hope, combined with an infinity symbol, on one of my feet, to always remind myself that there is always infinite hope, even during the most difficult times. I have the word live on my other foot, but the i is a semicolon. That one is to remind me to live each and every day, and to just keep going, because one day my story will end, but God will decide when that is, not me. That is a lesson that I had to learn over many years, but I did learn it well, and I was grateful when I discovered Project Semicolon, and it gave me the perfect way to add a reminder to my story in pictures.

That is what I consider my tattoos. My story in pictures. The story of Jules, but told in pictures, and a few words. I recently got an owl dream catcher on my arm. It represents my maternal grandmother, my mom, and my sisters. I chose the colors carefully. They all add depth to the meaning. When my girlfriend Andrea was visiting, from Michigan, a few weeks ago, I added another bird tattoo. It is on my right arm. It is an adorable purple bird (Andrea's favorite color), and it is sitting on a swing. Andrea got a green bird (my favorite color) sitting on a swing, on her arm. When we hold our arms together, it completes the scene of the two birds sitting on a swing. I really love it. 

For years I have felt harried, by friends and family, to get my disastrous chest tattoo covered, and I don't think they even realized how their nudges felt almost like harassment. Obviously, I hated the tattoo and knew it needed to be covered. There were even a few times, I thought about just cutting that pieces of skin off, and getting it gone completely. (Disclaimer: I never would have actually done that. I do not condone self-harm, nor do I take the subject lightly. I am just trying to convey to you, how much I seriously hated the tattoo, and how deeply my desire for it to just be gone would get, at times over the years.) I was just so scared of making it worse, if that was even possible, so I knew I needed to find the perfect artist, and the perfect cover tattoo idea. Sadly, I never could quite find the right artist, and could never really come up with any ideas for the cover.

As you may remember, early last year, I got a large tattoo on my upper left arm. It is of two coffee cups, one with "#1 Mom" on it, and the other with a W, for Gigi's birth name. The steam coming from the cups combine to form a heart above the cups, and there are some beautiful flowers below the cups. It is a very colorful tattoo, and that is because Gigi colored it. My artist (Chino from Lucky You Tattoo in Manteca, CA) did the outline work of the cups, steam, and flowers. Once that was healed, Gigi colored on my arm with markers and we took pictures. Once I have several to choose from, she and I sat down and picked the one she liked most. I brought that to Chino, and he inked her coloring onto my arm. He did it so perfectly. It looks exactly like her work. It was that day, that I knew he would be the artist to cover up my chest tattoo. I still did not know with what, but I knew the who finally. 

For all these past years, anytime I see a picture of myself, no matter how good I may look, I hate it. Unless I am lucky, and none of the tattoo is showing, and then there is actually a chance I like the picture. Since I practically live in tank tops and rounded neck shirts, it is safe to say that I dislike nearly every picture of me, at least a little bit. So, when I approached Chino about doing the cover up for me, he was more than happy to help. He understood how much I hated the tattoo. When he asked me what I wanted to cover it up with, I told him my mind was jammed full of ideas, but none of them felt any more right than any of the others. I told him, I had reached this point, where I did not know what, and I actually did not really care what. I told him I just wanted it to be pretty. I wanted to be able to look at a picture of myself, and if part of the tattoo was showing, to just simply think of it as pretty. So, we discussed it, and we decided on flowers. Simple and beautiful. I picked the flowers and the colors, and finally I had a plan.

So many people thought I must be so happy to finally have the name of my ex-boyfriend gone from my body. They are wrong. The name was never why I hated the tattoo. I hated it because it was ugly, and it did not even look like the picture I had picked out to have inked onto my body. Like I have said, my tattoos are my story. Von will always be a huge part of my story, and I was not bothered that his name was there, because he was a huge chapter in my story. That being said, I strongly encourage people from thinking twice, before you put a name on your body, that is not your child or a beloved relative. Despite the fact that I did not mind that his name was there, if I had it to do over with, I would have never gotten his name.

The day Andrea and I went to get our cute love birds, swinging on their swing together, I finally got my chest tattoo covered. We spent the whole day in the tattoo shop, but it was worth it. He did the most amazing job. I told him I just wanted it to be pretty, and he really made it beautiful. It is definitely a tattoo, that I will have no problem with it showing in pictures. I will say, that this was the first tattoo that actually hurt. I had to ask him to stop a few times, so I could breathe for a few minutes. The inner side, closest to the center of my chest just really hurt. My skin must be extra sensitive there. I have had so much anxiety over the years, thinking about getting it covered, and worried about it somehow ending up worse, so I was grateful Andrea and Chad went with me, and gave me the support I needed. I am also grateful that Chino was willing to take his time, and make the tattoo a beautiful addition to my story. 

I will be going back soon, to get the tattoo on my upper right arm done. I already paid for it, and we already know what it is going to be. I just need to figure out the right day to go get it done. I won't tell you what it is going to be, because I want it to be a surprise. I will say that it is my official Chad tattoo. I will be adding his chapter to my story in pictures. It is absolutely crazy, which makes it perfect, because our ride together in life has been a crazy one.

Once I get my Chad tattoo finished, I am going to go back, and get my tattoo for my Dad. I almost got it twice already, but I had to stop. I am just not emotionally ready yet. I don't want to have any breakdowns in the chair, or have any anxiety attacks, or to just cause myself any more sadness than necessary. My heart is still healing, and I can wait. I will know what the time is right. I had several ideas of what to get to honor my dad, but in the end, I decided to go very simple. I have his guitar, his main guitar, and many years ago, he wrote his name on it. I am going to have Chino trace his name, and ink that onto me. Growing up, my dad would always draw these ducks for me. He would draw them onto my balls, so people would know the balls were mine. He would draw them on cards he gave me. He would sometimes just draw them on scraps of paper. I loved those ducks. I have a rock he drew a duck on, and I am going to have Chino trace that duck, and then ink it beneath my dad's name. I am also going to have Chino trace "Love you, Dad", from one of the birthday cards my dad gave me, and ink that beneath the duck. Simple and perfect. 

I was going to add a ton of pictures to this post, particularly of the cover up piece, but it is actually still new and not completely healed. I promise I will come back and add some pictures to this post, once it is fully healed. I will also share pictures on my Facebook page, so if you follow me there, you will see them. I will add a picture of the original tattoos and a picture of the cover up immediately after it was finished. Once I get my Chad tattoo and my Dad tattoo, I may just do a blog post with pictures of my tattoos and the meaning behind them, an explanation of my story in pictures. I know that my first two tattoos are now covered, but they are still there, and they will always be part of my story, and I am okay with that. I am just grateful that they are much more beautiful now. Which is poetic, because my life is also so much more beautiful now. 




I would love to hear any stories behind any tattoos you have, if you want to talk about them. Do any of you have any terrible tattoos you want covered, or beautiful cover up tattoos you are grateful for? Well, I am sure when you read my words, you probably were not expecting such a long discussion about my tattoos, and I doubt tattoos even crossed Diane's mind, as she compiled this awesome list of words. I guess that is why I really love this Use Your Word challenge. You never know what words you will get, or where they will take your mind as you write. Just like we have no idea who will end up with the words we submit, or where they will take the recipient as they write. 

Now, that you know way more than you ever wanted to know about my tattoos, please do not forget to go check out the rest of this month's Use Your Words posts, and see which words everyone else received, and where their words took them, on their writing journey. I will meet you there, but first I need more coffee and a snack. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!!

On a quick side note: Thank you, Karen of Baking in a Tornado, for helping me with my sentence debacle, enabling me to turn this post into one I can fully be excited to share with others.

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Hearts Heal #PoetryCollaboration

Welcome to February's Poetry Collaboration. Each month a group of us bloggers get together, pick a theme, and submit poetry based on that theme. This month we chose the theme hearts. Considering I think of love and hearts and romance and friendship and cupid; whenever I think of February, hearts seemed like an amazing theme to me.





Now, I warn you now, I am going to get a bit verbose in this post. It is because I need to explain about the "poem" I am sharing. I am not even sure if it really is a poem. I had originally planned on writing a poem about this guy I once gave my heart to, and maybe one day, I will still share that. Something happened, as I was laying in bed, it was after midnight, I had woken up to use the bathroom, and curled back up in bed two nights ago. I was snuggled with my dad's Sherpa lined jean jacket, as I have been since the night I first took it from his house. We had arrived in Wyoming to handle his funeral and his final affairs. I walked into his house, and walked into my old bedroom, looked in my closet and saw THE jacket. The jacket I had loved for so many years, that he had told me "If I was a good girl, he might just give it to me one day". In the meantime, he let me wear it all the time, and I really loved it so very much. 

So, as I was laying in bed, cuddling my dad's coat, I started thinking about the poem I was going to be writing for today. I had the basic outline. I knew how it would begin and end, and I knew I would create a few rhymes in the middle to tie it together. My thoughts then wandered to thoughts of my dad, and I started crying, and then the "poem" I have decided to share today came pouring out of my heart. It is weird. When I write my poetry, I do often write with my heart, but my brain is very much involved. I have to make just the right rhymes and I have to convey just the right images. However, this "poem" did not involve my brain. It is just my heart. So, I figured that whether it is a poem or not, it definitely fits the theme of hearts. 

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Hearts Heal

My tears are streaming down my face, onto your coat.
It reminds me of all the times in my life you held me, and I cried, and my tears wet your t-shirts.
Sometimes my tears were because of you. Sometimes they were because of life. Sometimes they were because of boo-boos. 
I do remember that you gave the BEST hugs, and your boo-boo kisses were magical.
You came from a different time. You were forty years older than me, and the gap between our generations was quite vast.
I never thought much of it as a kid. I just knew you were old.
It is funny that I thought you were old, because as I stood beside you laying on the hospital gurney, your heart no longer beating, all I could think of was how young you were, and how you had so many years left, and that cancer took you far too soon.
It is weird how time changes perspectives. It is funny how death changes perspectives.
For many years, I would tell people how much I hated the way you raised me.
How I hated that you never spared the rod. How you never let me do anything fun.
How I hated how you held me back. How I hated how you were so overprotective.
I hated that your discipline was so excessive. I hated the bruises. I hated having to cut my own switches. I hated not being allowed to go to birthday parties for friends. I hated, I hated, I hated.
Yet, despite all that, I always told everyone that I loved you. That you were my dad, and I loved you wholeheartedly.
For so many years, I held onto these things that felt so huge, and I let them weigh me down. I let them help form the person I was becoming. I let them keep a wedge between us, that never seemed to really go away, and never let us be as close as we could have been.
When I was eighteen, I called you, and I told you that I forgive you for all the bad things you had ever done to me.
My therapist told me that I needed to forgive, so that I could move on. She said I would probably never forget, but that I could forgive. I could choose to release the control these weights had on me, weighing me down and molding me.
So, I called you, and I forgave you. You were confused, and I think a bit hurt, but you heard me out. 
You told me you were sorry I felt that way, but you only did what was best for me.
Forgiving you was good for me. I am glad I did it, because it enabled me to move beyond a lot of these self-imposed issues I had made for myself. It also helped me to look forward far more, than I was looking back towards the past.
Despite forgiving you, I still remembered things, and at times they would come up in conversations with people. I still felt pain over how I was hurt as a child.
Now, as I cling to your coat, and my tears are making it wet against my cheek, I realize that I am not crying for what was, but for what could have been.
I wish I knew then, what I know now, but I think that is something we can all say.
Since you left this Earth, my view of you has changed.
My view of the past has changed.
My view of my actions have changed.
My view of your actions have changed.
I spent a lifetime focusing on all the wrong things, and I did not even know it.
When you died, when I got that call my heart broke so completely.
My Daddy was gone.
My mind flooded with memories.
It took me a day to realize something so profound, that I wish I had realized long ago.
The memories that flooded my mind, weren't the memories I spent all those years dwelling on.
They were memories, that I had filed away, because I was too focused on remembering the things that had upset me. 
I had forgotten all the good, and you know what? There was so much GOOD.
I realize now that you were the best dad you were able to be.
You did the best you knew how to do.
You were a country boy, from a farm in North Carolina, and you had a little girl to care for all on your own.
That is exactly what you did. You cared for me.
You fed me. You clothed me. You made sure I got an education, a luxury you didn't get the benefit of.
You taught me right from wrong. You taught me to respect my elders. You taught me the importance of helping those in need, even if you did not have much yourself. You taught me to be strong. You taught me to speak my mind. You taught me to stand up for what I believe in. You taught me to volunteer every chance I get. You taught me that mistakes happen, and to learn from them. You taught me to be kind to everyone, no matter who they are, and that if they aren't kind back, to be even kinder to them. You taught me the importance of respecting my parents. You taught me the importance of music. You taught me to believe in myself, even if nobody else does. You taught me to stand up for what is right, no matter what I may lose in the process. You taught me how to fish. You taught me not to judge people until I get to know them, and even then to understand it's only my opinion which isn't even worth a penny. You taught me what great food was. To this day, your cooking is my favorite, and I regret having gone so long without eating one of your delicious meals. You taught me so very, very much. I am forever grateful.
You also taught me that things were way different in the 30's and 40's, than they were in the 80's and 90's. I realize now, that your means of discipline weren't you being abusive. It was you doing what you grew up knowing as right. Now, that I am thirty-six, I can confidently say, that if you knew how much your discipline hurt me emotionally, you never would have done it. I wish I had talked to you.
I wish I had talked to you about so many things. Not just things from when I was a child, but things from every year of my life. I wish I had gotten rid of the wedge that I let keep you at a distance, and I wish I had let you in so much more. You deserved that. I deserved that. I did us both a disservice, and unfortunately I did not realize it, until it was too late.
I know hearts heal. I know mine will heal. I just know it will take time. 
I can honestly say, that now that you are gone, I am so much wiser. Too little, too late.
I have been bombarded with all these amazing memories, that were just sitting in the recesses of my mind getting dusty. I was so focused on all the wrong things, and I never got to enjoy the good things.
I miss you. I miss you so much. Gigi misses you. I am going to continue to tell her all these dusty memories, so that she can get to know you better. She deserves that.
You deserve to be remembered.
I am so sorry that I realized all of these things too late.
I am so sorry I was not a better daughter.
I am so sorry I was not a better communicator.
In my defense, I am pretty sure I got that from you.
I found all the cards and letters I sent you over the years, and I saw all the little notes to me you wrote on them. You must have known I would see them one day. I wish you had said those things to me. Many of them, I had no idea. 
I honestly thought you thought I was a terrible daughter, but to see you write that you were so thankful to be my dad and you were so proud of me, really felt wonderful. 
Let's make a deal, when I get to Heaven, let's communicate way better there, than we did on Earth.
I really wish you had told me things, Dad.
I know why you didn't. It is the same reason, I have not really told you the depth of how sick I am.
I wanted to protect you.
I just need you to know, if I had known just how badly sick you were, I would have come to you.
Chad said that is exactly why you never told me, and I am guessing he is right.
I honestly thought you were invincible and would outlive me.
You are the strongest person I have ever known. How you kicked cancer's butt so many times, I will never understand.
I am so sorry that it finally won.
I am so sorry it happened before I figured out that the good things are the important things.
I am so sorry I spent so much time focused on the bad things.
I promise that I will make sure Gigi knows to focus on the good.
She's stubborn like her Papa Charlie. So, as you can imagine, I have my hands full.
My heart hurts so badly, but it will heal. Hearts heal. That is what they do.
I love you.
Always.

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I genuinely felt so badly, that my contribution to this poetry collaboration, was not much of a poem, so I decided to do one of my favorite types of poems, just to give this post a bit more of a poetic feel.

Hearts

Hand holding
Eye contact
Attraction growing
Racing heartbeats
Tender caresses
Start of a happily ever after

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So, as I warned, my main content really isn't a poem, but it is just what spilled out of my heart, and so it is what I decided to share. My dad and I always had a difficult relationship. He was a single dad in his forties and fifties, raising a stubborn girl. I was a hard kid to raise. I was a good kid, but I definitely had issues processing emotions, and it often got bottled up into these weights I carried on my shoulders. I honestly think, if I had communicated with my dad better, we would have ended up having an even better relationship.

He was such a good man. He taught me so much about the importance of being a good person, doing good deeds, and helping others. I am so grateful for that. These days, some of the biggest joys in my life are volunteering. Now, that I have Gigi to volunteer with me, it is even better. I can only hope my dad enjoyed volunteering with me, as much as I enjoy volunteering with Gigi. 

One undeniable truth about my dad, is that he was always there for me. For many years, he had a 800 number, connected to a land line in his home, and I could always call him anytime day or night. He wanted me to always be able to reach him, and if I were out and about, (pre-cell phone days), all I had to do was find a payphone and I could call him right up. I have been blessed with many wonderful people in my life, but my dad was definitely one of the most dependable people in my life.

Before he died, my Dad and I had a conversation, and he told me that he loved Chad. I was pretty amazed by this, because in all the years I have been with Chad, my dad had never really given him the nod of approval, and my dad was notorious for hating any guy I ever liked. He told me to thank Chad for always taking care of Gigi and I, and for helping to give him Gigi. My dad loved Gigi so much, and I was grateful for that. He and Gigi would talk on the phone often, and he kept her laughing. I will always regret they never met in person, and that I have no pictures of them together. 

My Dad did not tell me that he had Pancreatic cancer. He simply told me his cancer was back, and he would be fighting it again. He had battled cancer and won so many times, I honestly thought he would win again. He purposely did not tell me how sick he was, because I think he knew that I would have gone to him. I would have needed to bring Gigi with me, and I honestly do not think he wanted me or Gigi to see him so sick. I found out he died of Pancreatic Cancer, when I received his death certificate in the mail. 

I just really want to tell you guys something... Life is full of good things and bad things. It is full of ups and downs. Please, don't ever get so focused on the bad things, that you forget the good things. Let yourself enjoy and remember the good things. Those are the important things. Also, communicate openly with the people you love. Let them know how you feel. Let them tell you. Do not bottle up hurt. Do not let it weigh you down. Talk about it. 

I am so sorry that my poetry post was not poetic. I am also sorry it was such a sad piece. Lucky for you guys, you can now go check out the rest of this month's poetry posts, and enjoy some awesome poetry!! 


Links to February's Hearts Poetry Round-Up:


Karen of Baking In A Tornado


Dawn of Cognitive Script

Lydia of Cluttered Genius
Diane of On the Border





Monday, February 4, 2019

Spreading Warmth #BlogWithFriends

Welcome to February's Blog with Friends Round-up!! Every month, a group of bloggers comes together, chooses a topic, and then create unique posts based on that theme. The posts can include anything from recipes, short stories, poetry, lists, DIY projects, educational projects, lists, and anything in between. The sky is the limit. Every post is unique and different, but they are all united by the same theme. This month's theme is Snuggly and Warm. 




I know, I have been talking a lot about paying it forward lately. I cannot help it. I just believe so strongly in it. I believe in it to my very core. I remember the very first time I had ever heard of the pay it forward concept. It was through the movie made about the concept. I had recently lost everything in a fire, and I was living in an empty apartment, with hardly any belongings in it. I had a friend loan me a tiny little TV, with a built in DVD player, and I found a few DVDs for $1 at the local Family Dollar. I watched the movies over and over. One of the movies, was "Pay It Forward". I happily watched it a hundred times. 

That movie gave me just the spark I needed to help me get through the struggle of losing everything. I was already a fan of volunteering and doing good deeds. That movie helped me realize, that even at the lowest point of my life, when I literally had nothing of substance, I could still put good into the world. I could still pay forward all the blessings of my life, no matter how big or small. It was during that time in my life, that I embraced the concept of paying it forward, and I have truly lived life with that philosophy in the forefront of my actions. 

No matter what is going on in your life. No matter how little you have, or how much you have, you can always pay it forward. Paying it forward, does not have to cost you a thing. The simple act of putting a smile on some one's face, by giving them a compliment, is paying it forward. It does not have to be complex. It can be simple. If you want, it can be complex. It is up to you. It is your act of paying it forward, and it can be done any way you choose. 

When I first heard the theme of Snuggly and Warm, all I could think of was fireplaces, warm blankets, and hot cocoa. Well, I am a huge blanket lover, but I did not think you all would appreciate a list of my favorite blankets. As for hot cocoa, I don't have some super special recipe, so that was no help. I was truly at a loss, and then my friend mentioned spreading warmth in your community. That was what I needed to hear, and I knew the post I would write. As I plotted it all out, I realized that you may be tired of hearing about paying it forward from me. That being said, I cannot help myself. It truly is at my very core, and a major part of who I am. When I leave this Earth, I hope people remember that I was Gigi's mom and I loved her with all of my being, and that I was a huge promoter of paying it forward. It is very important, that we all leave this world better than we entered it, even if just in a tiny way.

So, one incredibly great way to pay it forward, is to spread warmth within your local community. It is great to make the world better, but one of the best places to start, is in the very community we live in. Every community is different, and needs different things, so you may need to research your own community, to find out its specific needs. However, I am hoping that I can give you some ideas, or some places to start. Hopefully, we can all spread the warmth of love in our communities.

1. Most communities have a Senior Center, where residents above a certain age (usually around 60), can go and socialize, and receive connections to resources they need. Most Senior Centers hold social events for all ages, and help the Seniors give back to their communities, by helping out with these events. I do know that many Senior Centers have limited budgets, and many hold fundraisers. So, you can reach out to your Senior Center and offer to help with fundraising events. You can also find out when the fundraisers are, and buy tickets. You will help the center raise funds, and you will get to enjoy a fun community event. You can also volunteer to be a buddy with a Senior. You can play cards or do crafts, or whatever fun events are available. Sometimes you can even help, by giving the Seniors rides to appointments or the grocery store. I often find that the wonderful conversations I have with the Seniors I help, are beyond payment enough for the time I end up investing. They have some of the best stories. 

2. You can also find centers for the community's youth. Boys and Girl's Clubs, YMCAs, and other youth centers. Now, helping at these, understandably so, usually require you to get fingerprinted and go through a background check. It is actually an extremely easy process, so do not be deterred by it. If you are good at sports, you can definitely help with their sport activities. If you are great at art, you can help with art programs. If you would rather, most are always looking for tutors, to help the children with their school work. Help with fundraising is always a good thing, as many centers have limited budgets. There will definitely be plenty of ways for you to help, and make a difference in the lives of your community's youth.

3. A good place to go, is to your town's government hall, and ask what ways you can help out. Chances are they will have a huge list of ways you can help. From helping with festivals and events hosted by the town, to helping clean up community parks, to helping cover up graffiti, to helping hang fliers and signs advertising community events, and any number of other things. 

4. Unfortunately, most communities have homeless residents who need help. You can easily help them, by bringing them non-perishable food items, blankets, batteries, warm socks, clothes, and various other items. I will never discourage people from helping homeless individuals. However, I will encourage you to speak with your town hall or local police station. Most communities have dedicated task forces, that work closely with the homeless population and organizations which help them. At times, helping those tasks forces and organizations directly, are actually more help to the homeless, than going to the individuals themselves. 

5. Do you have a green thumb? Do you love gardening? Helping out with your community's garden(s), or even starting one, would be an excellent way to spread warmth! Even if your thumb isn't very green, but you can pull weeds, that would be a massive help. 

6. Donating toys to community programs at the holidays, or hosting toy drives, is a huge way to help spread warmth. Toys at the holidays are a huge need in most communities. I just want to remind you, that there is also a need for school supplies and backpacks, during the Summer. Many organizations distribute the school supplies to children in need before school starts. Clothes are also a huge help. You can reach out to your local schools, town hall, or Foster Care agencies. They should be able to direct you to organizations that can give you information on drives for toys, school supplies, clothes, and other needed items. Churches are also a great resource for finding out where and when to give.

7. If you have a large family, a large group of tight knit friends, a large group of coworkers, or a large church community, a great way for you to all give back together, is to join the Adopt a Highway program, and help keep a local stretch of road clean. It is a very simple way to give back, that makes a huge impact. 

8. Many local little league and sport leagues, are always looking for volunteers and helpers. If you love sports, this would be an excellent way for you to help in your community. Just contact your local league, and they can get you all set up to help out! If you are great with sports, but you still want to help, I am sure donations would also be greatly appreciated.

9. I cannot tell you the number of times, I hear people saying they want to do something, but do not know what to do. So, if you are really into something, start a local group. Maybe start a book club. You can ask at a local coffee shop or your library, and see if they would be willing to let you have monthly meetings of a book club, if you start one. Maybe you would rather start a quilting group? Crochet or knitting group? Poetry Club? Writing Club? Art club? Rock painting club?! What is your passion?! Start a group, and share that passion with others, who have the same passion, or are interested in learning about it. Maybe even just start a board game club. The limits are endless. I am sure you can find a library or coffee shop or some other place, that would be willing to let you host monthly meetings.

10. Are you a musician?! Play the guitar? Drums? Flute? Some other awesome instrument? Many kids would love to take music lessons, but simply cannot afford them. If you speak with your local youth organizations, library, town government, you could most likely set it up, so you can give free or extremely low cost lessons. You could probably find other musicians willing to join you.

Really, there are just so many ways you can spread the warmth of love throughout your community. Any small act of kindness, can have a huge impact. So, just get out there and do it. Just put goodness out into your community, and know that it will spread. I hope you have an amazing time spreading warmth in your community. 

Do not forget to check out the other Snuggly and Warm posts from this month!! See how the other bloggers translated the topic into posts of their own!! I will meet you there. I just need to get some more coffee. My Lupus has had me sleeping far too much lately. I am depending on coffee and determination to get through this upcoming week. I hope you all have a fabulous week!! If you are being hit by these freezing temperatures, I hope you stay snuggly and warm!!




Links to February's other Snuggly and Warm Round-up Posts:



Dawn from Spatulas On Parade
Melissa of My Heartfelt Sentiments

What?! #FlyOnTheWall

Welcome to February's Fly on the Wall Round-Up. This is a blogging challenge, hosted by Karen of Baking in a Tornado, where bloggers get...